New Arsenal defensive midfielder here | Arsene dreaming of that bonus again

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So we’ll kick the morning off with a final word over the sexism stuff. Today, the Sun newspaper went with a hit piece on Richard Keys wife being sexist on page five, turn to page 31 and there is a double page spread of 10 sexist jokes, asking the readers which ones are acceptable (an excuse to print sexist jokes) and then hidden somewhere in the back there is an article about a jobless scumbag who beat a cat, threw it from the 11th floor of a building and let it die over 15 agonising minutes.

I know which I found more shocking, a shame we live in a society where an off air remark about the offside rule will curry more debate.

Anyway, we’re where we usually are in January. Wenger needs to make a signing, he’s needed to make one since December and surprise, surprise, there are simply no players anywhere in the world!

Unless of course they are under the age of 20. We never seem to have any problem picking those boys off because 1) They guarantee you a resale value 2) We’re the Real Madrid for young men.

We all read yesterday that Ian Holloway takes a cut of any transfer surplus he creates across the year. Not something I have a problem with usually. We’ve told you for ages that Arsene Wenger is bonused in a similar way and I think once again he’s proved it with the type of player he’s been signing and the inaction so far this winter.

That for me is where his bonus scheme is wrong.

Firstly, he’s not earning £250k a year like Ian Holloway. If that man is taking a cut of transfer profits, fair play, if he was sacked tomorrow in a heap of shame, his salary wouldn’t have secured him for life. Wenger is on the best part of £6million a year already. Surely he doesn’t need a further cut of transfer profits? Surely a club with ambitions as big as Arsenal’s should be telling him what he can spend because the CEO is intelligent enough to know that figure won’t bankrupt us, then bonusing him solely on what he achieves on the pitch.

Arsenal fans pay more than anyone to see their team play football. We’re one trophy position better off than we were last year and arguably, we haven’t played better, the teams around us have just got worse. We are unlikely to get a better chance of the league, we need a centre back, the coach is once again showing an ineptitude for signing players that hit his bonus and we’ll once again giving ourselves an uphill battle to make our mark.

Alex Song has been tremendous so far this year, under no circumstances should he be asked to drop into central defence.

1) He’s not good enough in that position

2) Denilson is not good enough to cover him

3) It could destroy his confidence doing what he’s doing at the moment

Hey, all of the above might be completely wrong. Wenger might surprise us with Gary Cahill or Chris Samba over the weekend. If he does that, regardless of how they adapt, no one will be able to accuse Wenger of not addressing the issues.

However, if history is a gauge, there is an awfully real chance that he’ll bank on the poor Squillaci coming back and then he’ll head into the next 3 months with just 3 centre backs. All the more perplexing as we know full well that JD’s fitness is about as reliable as an iphone 4 alarm clock. All the more worrying because I remember the centre back calamity we went with at the Camp Nou last year.

I find our weakness in the transfer market embarrassing. Almost as embarrassing as sending a girl a smutty joke picture message using an M&S sausage as a prop, only for her not to realise it was sausage. That was awkward. Did I not learn anything from Keys and Gray?!

In other news, I think I owe Geoff a bit of an apology. Sometimes he comes out with some stuff when we’re at football and I think , ‘ Geoff, you do talk some madness sometimes’, but more often than not, he gets it right, one of these times was his insistence that Jack Wilshere could become our new defensive midfielder. Well, low and behold, Fabio Capello has come out and said something very interesting,

“Wilshere is better technically than Makelele. He’s slower than Makelele but when he receives the ball he is more dangerous than Makelele,” Capello told the Daily Telegraph.

“Wilshere is the best young player. He now plays all the time with Arsenal. If you play with Arsenal, you are a really good player because Arsene Wenger likes good players.

“I think he’s mature enough to play this role. He’s a really interesting player.

Well, well, well… I didn’t see that one coming. It’s interesting because Jack seems to relish the fight more than the creative side of the game. That’s not to say that he isn’t very good at picking out passes, because he is. I see him more as an Alonso with balls type of player.

Capello also took time out to address his mistake of leaving Theo at home.

“He is playing how I remember when he started to play with us. It was a tough decision leaving Theo out for the World Cup.

“He is one of the players after the World Cup I thought about a lot. I made a mistake not selecting him.”

I’m not so sure I agree here. Theo has been very disappointing for a number of years now. I’m glad he was dropped from the World Cup squad. He’s worked on his fitness, he’s more motivated than ever before and he’s found his shooting boots at long last. The confidence in his game this season is incredible compared to last.

Just before I go, I thought it was interesting that Blackpool were fined for making 10 changes to their starting line up against Aston Villa earlier in the year, yet Arsenal make 8 changes against Wigan, drop points and no one says anything. Neither team should be fined for utilising their submitted squad, but it does go to show you that sometimes big club fear from the league bosses is real.

In fact, it’s the same for everyone. Commentators openly say on Sky,

‘The referee was probably justified not giving that penalty, could you imagine Ferguson at half time?’

Sorry, if Ferguson shouted at me and I was as big as Howard Webb, I grab him by the shirt and pin him up against the wall and demand a pay rise. Why should it be acceptable for a manager to shout at anyone, especially a match official that’s on the pay roll?

Ferguson is the King in the world of Premier League and I think it’s outrageous certain clubs have decision go their way because of how they operated. Anyway, that’s a different blog for a different day.

See you in the comments!

P.S. Two things. No I don’t have any tickets to the Carling Cup Final and if you are a Arsenal blog writer and you want to talk about us even if it’s to slag us off, a backlink would be common courtesy.

Also, don’t forget that you can follow us on twitter @LeGrove, you can access our exciting Facebook fanpage and you can receive a lovely e-mail everyday if the IT gestapo are on your case about us!

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Andy Gray and Richard Keys, the demon anti Arsenal Sky pundits have been fired, so is that Good?

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For the pro manc loving Fergie can do no wrong stance, yes. For their he’s just showing passion and letting you know he’s there comments, yes most definitely. But for an off air comment about a female lino not knowing the offside rule, most definitely not.

I am in no way defending sexism or any ‘ism’ for that matter and I know some of you won’t agree with this, but read on and let me tell you why I believe this is wrong.

And encroaching on civil liberties with spy cameras is verging on Stalinism and that’s on ‘ism’ that is unacceptable in this country.

What next, cameras in toilets to see who washes their hands, or worse?

Ok, they didn’t get caught fiddling their expenses at the taxpayers expense, they weren’t shagging their best friends wives and knocking them up, they were neither drug dealing or taking, they weren’t shoplifting and they weren’t looking at underage porn sites on the internet.

Yes I agree that there is no place for racism, there is no place for discriminating against disabled people, mental handicapped people or old people, and there is certainly no place for sexism, but I believe they were just having a bit of lads banter that went horribly wrong.

With all the evil going on around us in this world and in this country, let’s get some perspective, Richards Keys resignation was on page 5 today, buried further down was a white bird and a black bloke who stamped a homosexual to death for nothing, they got 7 and 6 respectively, what happened to life? Now that’s a real crime, but I didn’t see that repeated for a week on the TV and all over the press. Sky, ITV, Channel4 and the BBC have been camped outside Andy Grays house for a week.

What do blokes talk about when they are down the boozer, God? Or how they are going to spend all weekend helping the elderly and doing charity work?

Do they hell, and if you are one that does, then you have indeed cast that first stone and I humbly apologise – Jesus.

What do women do when they are out with their chums? The same as blokes thats what, being lewd and probably being disparaging about blokes, ‘man flu’ springs to mind.

Tell me I’m wrong!

If we apply this holier than thou logic in life what next, we can’t take the micky out of the Scots, or the Welsh? We can’t have a dig at the spuds? We can’t wear Lancaster bombers on our heads when we play Germany?

There is a fine line between banter and misogyny and those two guys are not misogynists. As much as they get me down with their arse kissing manc antics, they are just ordinary blokes that have paid a high price for a few moments of madness, off air and pretty sneaky by the Prince of Darkness in my book.

We have many ladies on here, and we love them all, but they know what banter is, one lovely lady called a fellow blogger an ‘acorn dick’ the other day, and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know that for sure, but it was just banter, she wasn’t called a man hater, in fact many male bloggers joined in on her side.

I am all for justice, but those guys for all their faults did not deserve to lose their livelihoods, maybe a ban would have humbled them. Now though, they are finished.

As for Twitchy’s son, I expect him to be in the deep stuff with his wife after the clip I saw, but by the same logic as was applied to the demon duo, how the hell was he on Sky last night, he thought the ‘Smashing’ sketch was hilarious. He should have been sacked as well, unless hanging out the back of someone is acceptable banter, he thought it was.

So when you’re at a game and 50,000 fans are singing the ‘referees a w*nker’ I hope you tell the people around you there is no place for foul language, verbal assault or bullying, but I won’t, it’s all part of the game, and what those twerps did was in private, ill judged granted, but in private, or so they thought.

Onto our beloved Arsenal, we get to play the Brummies in the final, sweet, that means I can get hammered at Baker Street without fear of standing next to a 1000 West Ham fans, last time it was the chavs, this time though I expect a different result!

Finally I’m hearing we are talking to Sackho and Benzema, now those two would push us over the line for sure, I would love it, but I can’t see it somehow.

Email Pedro as we has lots of tickets available for the cup match on Sunday.

Have a great day Grovers, next up Huddersfield, a case of Peroni if anyone knows where that is, thank God we are playing at home and we’ll get to see Benik Afobe, not scoring though I hope!

I also found it unbelievable listening to all those sanctimonious pricks on TalkShite when they (all of them) judged Andy Gray and Richard Keys comments as unacceptable but yet they all work with Stan Collymore who no only beats women, he’s a self confessed dogger, funny how that bloke deserves a second chance but suggesting a woman doesn’t understand the offside rule is unacceptable. I wonder what Ulrika’s view on that is.

Nik on the wing… Arsenal win. Ratings and Review

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After Geoff’s impassioned plea for a resounding win, the least the boys could do was oblige.

It was the biggest night of 2011 and possibly the biggest game in the universe at that given time. Could we shake off the embarrassment of the away loss, could the boys step up?

Well… despite making a bit of a meal of it, resoundingly yes!

Ipswich sent out pretty much their only warning shot of the match after 2 seconds with a fizzing 45 yard punt at goal. You felt they needed that for pride reasons, you know, in case the Arsenal of the weekend showed up. Sadly for us, the stuttery, lets thread it through the eye of a needle Arsenal turned up. We didn’t create an awful lot, in fact, we went closest to conceding when Chesney came flying out of his goal, missed the ball and head butted Sagna out of the game.

What a plank.

Our first real chance came when Nik B picked up the ball out wide, chipped a floated cross into space where Robin was on hand to clatter the ball against the bar with an angled header.

Robin went close soon after when he latched onto a superbly flighted Cesc pass, he watched it over his shoulder but sadly couldn’t knock it into the net.

Cesc had the final chance of the half when he fired narrowly wide of the Fulop’s post.

The second half began and Arsenal’s lack of width was really telling. Sometimes it takes us an awful long time to realise that when it’s congested in the middle, there are other areas of the pitch you can pass to.

Then came our moment, Jack Wilshere saw Nik B holding his line, he fizzed a 40 yard ball perfectly into his path, the Dane controlled it with the outside of his boot, cut inside and curled one into the bottom right corner of the goal. A strike of pure brilliance and one you felt had been coming for a while!

Not quite sure what were alluding to when they called it a goal of ‘rare quality’? Were they jibing Nik, because I’m pretty sure Arsenal are always scoring quality goals!

Not long after, Arshavin won a corner, he took it and found Kozzer who took advantage of some unsure keeping and headed into the net. A great goal and brave attempt by the Frenchman!

There was still time for Eboue to cock up and let Scotland in, but Chesney was equal to his tame shot.

The final goal came when Denilson broke up play, played it to Cesc who spotted an Arshavin run, the Russian cut inside his man and played a reverse slide pass back into Cesc’s path… the Spaniard slipped the ball teasingly between the Ipswich keepers legs.

The game was over. We had won. It was time to start carnival dancing to the tune of, ‘we’re on our way to Wembley.’

I said at the start of the season I’d be more than happy with a Carling Cup win. Trophies breed trophies and we’ve not nabbed one for years now. This could be a fantastic opportunity to kick-start a glut of them. I challenge any true fan to say this doesn’t mean anything to them. The fact is, if you have a mindset like that, you’re not a real sports fan, you’re just a snob. I can’t wait for our day out and I can’t wait to see our captain raise the first trophy of the new decade!

Fair play to Arsene Wenger as well. He’s made plenty of mistakes over the past few years, but it takes a big man to admit that devaluing trophies is wrong and to address that. I’m over the moon we’ve taken this cup seriously and I certainly won’t be complaining when we’re open top parading with something better than an Annual Report.

We need to get our minds focused on the weekend now. Huddersfield in the FA Cup which could potentially put us 3 games away from another Cup Final.

I’ve got 1993 fever… and don’t even tell me Koscielny doesn’t look just like Andy Linighan!

Kozzer? (Right you doughnut)


Chezzer – He pulled a flappy early in the first half and viciously assaulted Sagna. Other than that, a quiet game and a clean sheet! 6

Clichy – I thought he played pretty well. He’s returning to form, about time too! 7

Sagna – Head butted into a rest. 6

JD – Top game, kept them quiet, won everything in the air as usual. 9

Kozzer – He made a few rash challenges and picked up a harsh booking. He was good on the ground and he popped up for the all important goal that gave us the lead. I’m really enjoying his game of late. 7.5

Denilson – He broke up play for the third but I couldn’t help but notice his flat-footed approach and how weak he is. I’m not a fan, Song is miles ahead of him. He even looks average against Championship teams. 5

Cesc – Guilty of not showing intelligence for the first 40 minutes. He grew with the game and kept plugging away. Not vintage, but a win is a win. 7

Wilshere – Superb through ball for Nik (I think). He’s a hard worker, I’d like to see a bit more creativity from him. He’s either sublime or anonymous. I guess that’s youth for you… I love that he works hard regardless. 8

Arshavin – The haters were baying for his triple distilled blood once again and he retaliated with two assists. He wasn’t amazing today but he’s feeling his way back into things. He just needs a bit of luck in my opinion. I think all the incredibly boring people who abuse him at the Emirates because it’s the done thing at the moment need to grow up. 6.5

Bendtner – Super game from the unorthodox wide man. His goal was fantastic on a number of levels, his work rate was tireless and his creativity was admirable. He’s really starting to slot into that wide role, his crossing is immaculate. 8

Robin – He looked sharp out there today and I thought he showed super bravery when the Ipswich keeper clattered him in the first half. Injury free… again!  7

P.S. Before I go, how ridiculously transparent is the Richard Keys / Andy Gray smear campaign? If any man tells me they haven’t had this exact same conversation at work, I’ll know you’re lying. Boys will be boys and I’d imagine it’s even harder not to converse like that when you work for a company who solely employs based on looks.

I actually thought that conversation was hilarious… tasteless and crude, yes, but come on, people are allowed to say whatever they want when they’re off air. Leaking videos hasn’t been standard practice @ Sky over the past 20 years has it?

… and ladies, don’t pretend you don’t have exactly the same conversations. I sat as the sole male in an office of 16 women when I started my career, my god, did I hear some things that certainly scarred an impressionable young mind!

In fact, my most embarrassing moment came in that office. The assistant manager basically shouted across the whole office…

‘Pedro, I just walked into the kitchen, I was going to pinch your ass…. but then I realised you didn’t have one’

Despite everyone hearing and laughing extremely hard, no action was taken. Good… If you can’t take a few tasteless comments in the office, perhaps you should work from home.

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